Diplomatic air ball
Some news stories are gifts for columnists. They fall into your lap and enthusiastically beg for more. Case-in-point: When former professional basketball player and sporadic cross-dresser Dennis Rodman tried his game at foreign relations with North Korea.
Rodman and three members of the Harlem Globetrotters visited North Korea after being invited by the 30 year-old dictator, Kim Jong-Un, who apparently is a pro basketball fan. The trip was sponsored by Vice Media, a production company that is producing their exploits for HBO.
Surely, no one will confuse this with HBO's Emmy award winning epic: "The Pacific."
What many Americans may not realize, including Rodman's entourage, is the Korean War (1950-1953) never technically ended. Combat ended with a cease-fire that miraculously has held for nearly six decades. As far as the North is concerned, it remains in a state of war against its southern cousins and the United States. At times, the cease-fire has come precariously close to ending. It was only last week when North Korea threatened to launch a nuclear attack upon the United States for its "hostile attitude."
According to Human Rights Watch, North Korea is one huge gulag of a fiefdom that has imprisoned millions with tens of thousands having starved to death. "The North Korean regime has a horrific human rights record, quite possibly the worst human-rights situation in the world," says the U.S. State Department. Kim Jong-Un has more than followed in his late father's footsteps. He has made them deeper.
Plenty of Americans walk around with blinders on when critiquing brutal dictatorships. Witness the outpouring of love for the late Hugo Chavez, of Venezuela. Democratic Congressman Jose Serrano, tweeted: "Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. R.I.P. Mr. President." Hollywood lefties Michael Moore and Oliver Stone have done likewise. In years past, Charles Lindbergh and Ezra Pound expressed empathy for Hitler and Nazi Germany. It was journalist Lincoln Steffens who infamously proclaimed, "I have seen the future, and it works," while praising the now defunct Soviet Union.
These folks embody the timeless expression, "a sucker born every minute." It was comrade Lenin who probably put their behavior best, calling them "useful idiots." What these legions of "idiots" fail to comprehend is that there comes a point when one's usefulness is no longer useful. Just another reason they should be on their knees thanking God they reside in the USA.
Rodman was vintage village idiot, filling the lane like he did on the hardwood, but this time instead of grabbing rebounds, he downed the communist swill in one huge gulp. But what do you want from a walking sideshow who wore a wedding dress to promote his book, "Bad As I Wanna Be" and sported a kinky getup on the cover of Sports Illustrated explaining why he wanted to play his last NBA game naked.
Kim's regime has persistently refused to meet with U.S. envoys, but found plenty of time to entertain the prominently pierced and tatted-up "Worm," Rodman's moniker from days past. Rodman's entourage was the first Americans to have met Kim since he took over North Korean rule from his father Kim Jong-Il in 2011.
Call it foreign relations 21st century chic.
Kim treated Rodman's group to an "epic feast," in a state where most people are on the brink of starvation. As if on cue, Rodman lapped praise on the diminutive Kim, calling him "an awesome guy," assuring him he has "a friend for life" and called his father and grandfather, the architects of the servile republic, "great leaders."
Apparently, a guided tour of North Korea's gulags was not on the itinerary. There's nothing like witnessing firsthand how wicked North Korea's nuclear bomb builder, basketball loving, height challenged dictator can be.
As Sports Illustrated put it, "It's hard to laugh at a clown when he is sitting next to a murderer." When a clown performs, you get what's expected: a clown show.
When Rodman finally did leave the prison camp masquerading as a country, the people who lined the broomswept streets were moved to patriotic song as only a communist horde can do. Their pride swelled as Rodman had just been awarded the Hermit Kingdom's highest accolade, permission to leave without having to escape via communist-light China.
What possibly could be next for Rodman? Meeting with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or perhaps Syria's Bashar al-Assad?
Better yet, what about Rodman taking up permanent residence in the Hermit Kingdom?
Now that would be a slam dunk.
(Maresca, a local freelance writer, composes "Talking Points" for each Sunday edition.)